Tuesday, November 14, 2006
Tom Evslin reviews _Collapse_
Tom Evslin has just blogged a thoughtful review of Jared Diamond's most recent book, Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed. I've read Guns, Germs and Steel, and Diamond's earlier and under-recognized The Third Chimpanzee -- Tom's review has now moved Collapse up my to-read stack.
Diamond . . . although tremendously worried about human civilization in the next fifty years, considers himself a “cautious optimist”. I’d much rather be lectured about the environment by Jared Diamond than Al Gore any day.Tom then summarizes two examples from the book, one where a society undermined itself and collapsed and another where collapse was avoided. He winds up observing
It’s possible that clever use of resources would support twice the world’s current population of humans, Diamond says, but continues by calculating that we will be using twelve times as much resources as we are now if people in third world countries achieve their aspiration of first world life styles – even if there is no population growth at all. Whoops. Can’t do that.
Globalization puts us all on the same island, says Diamond. He’s not railing against globalization, just citing a fact. But he’s mildly optimistic that we can make the right decisions . . .When I look at the consequences of making the wrong decisions -- and the rampant stupidity that passes for governance these days -- I find it hard to remain mild. My hat is off to Tom Evslin for a great review, and to Diamond for a lifetime of thought-provoking exposition of humanity's place on this little blue sphere that, so far, has borne and nurtured us.
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